chris-walton_web.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE — Commuters will soon be able to purchase fare tickets from their cell phones to ride buses in Broward County. That is one of the technology and service improvements the Broward County Transit revealed Monday during a community transit forum at the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center at 2650 Sistrunk Blvd.

Mobile ticketing, where commuters are able to purchase and obtain tickets online using a mobile phone or handheld device, is expected to be available in September 2016, following testing slated to begin in March 2016.  “EASY Card” readers will also be installed on BCT buses to allow passengers to use the card to pay for fares and transfers among Miami-Dade Transit, Palm Tran buses and Tri-Rail.

“It will allow all of our passengers to ride each of the systems seamlessly,” said Chris Walton, director of the Broward County Transit.  “It will eliminate cash and allow for faster boarding on the bus.”

Mark Beard, 60, of Oakland Park welcomed the anouncement.

“One’s personal relationship with their cell phone is virtually primary these days,” Beard said.  “I don’t go to a ticket booth to buy a ticket so I end up driving a lot.  Being able to buy it from your cell phone is a great idea because that way it is immediate.”

Commuters will also be able to receive “real-time”

information about the arrival of buses through text messaging, the Broward Transit website and mobile app, thanks to a $12.5 million federal grant.  Testing will start this September, with the program becoming effective in May 2015.

“From your smart phone, desktop or tablet, you will be able to see what time the bus is coming to your stop,” Walton said. “We are trying to make learning the bus schedules and buying tickets a lot easier.”

Beard said he would be more encouraged to ride the bus due to the technology improvements.

“If it is raining outside, you want to know where that bus is,” Beard said.  “People will be more willing to catch the bus if they know about what time the bus will be there.”

Under the modernization plan, the transit facilities of several cities will be updated, including Lauderhill.  The $6 million federally funded project, expected to be completed in 2016, will make the Lauderhill transit facility LEED green certified and offer bus pass sales.

The Ravenswood maintenance and operations facility is receiving $40 million in federal and local funding to update the building to be LEED green certified and provide a three-story parking garage.  The project is expected to be completed in 2016.

 In addition, transit facilities in Plantation, Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach will be given facelifts, with new bus shelters and bus pass sales offered on-site.

 About 1,260 bus shelters will be added throughout the county by 2016, due to $25 million in funding.  The shelters will include real-time digital screens at some stops, benches, solar-power lighting, bike racks and trash bins.

Broward Transit will add 45-foot express coach buses to its fleet in 2015. Also, 60-foot articulated buses have already been added on weekdays for passengers riding the Route 71 (Oakland Park Boulevard) bus.

There have also been service improvements to the State Road 7/U.S. 441 Corridor bus with Route 19 being added in January, offering service between Lauderhill Mall and Sandalfoot Cove Boulevard.

Route 18 is offering service between Lauderhill Mall and the Golden Glades Interchange and more weekend bus service has also been added to both routes as well as to the 441 Breeze.